Republicans: Science is for Suckers

Republicans seem anxious to prove they are the party of scientific ignoramuses.

No, not today, that was back in 2007, during the last Presidential election, as written by Reason magazine’s Ronald Bailey. Incidentally, note the use of the term, “evolution denier,” in the headline of his post. The usage is not as common in the vernacular as climate “denier,” but it’s out there.

Hence, my argument that Texas Governor Rick Perry’s vocal positions on evolution (it’s just a theory) and global warming (it’s a big hoax) will combine in way that seriously mars the climate skeptic image in the public mind.

But hey, don’t listen to me, ’cause I’m a “climate hoax promoter.”

29 Responses to “Republicans: Science is for Suckers”

  1. sharper00 says:

    Science sits well neither in the framework of Laissez-faire capitalism nor religious belief, the Republican party will need to “make some changes” before it can comfortably embrace it without destroying it.

    Maybe in the future people will start accepting ideology can operate within bounds and limits and that different ways of thinking can have benefits outside those limits. In the polarised climate of today it’s all or nothing and it must apply everywhere or nowhere.  

  2. jeffn says:

    Broad question for you Keith, where are you going with this theme?

    Are you denying that environmentalists – the gang that’s the most noisy about AGW – have a history of exaggeration, anti-science nonsense, and data manipulation that would reasonably give pause to anyone in authority who’s being asked to take them seriously?

    You can’t be denying this- you’ve linked to the fact that it’s so damn bad that even AGW movement folks are noting it and calling it out.

    Do you think the bulls%^&t from the enviro left has had no effect at all on the population at large or the political party the BS is specifically designed to attack?

    You can’t be thinking that, because you’ve noted the BS has harmed the movement even if you haven’t fully grasped the level to which everyone is still chuckling at the absurdist over-reach on AGW (stop every once and a while and look at the amazing compilations of contradictory claims of what is caused by AGW).
    Is this a strategic shift, coming on the heels of some discovery that if you just simply make an effort to alienate half the voting public by demagoging a highly selective collection of straw man arguments the party of fairly tale solutions will get elected and reduce emissions?

    I just can’t believe that’s the answer- you strike me as intelligent.

    So, is this about an election year coming up and the greater – much greater than climate seriousness, apparently – need for partisan success?  

    Here’s my take on the election from a climate concerned perspective in a nutshell: just about any Republican will be quite happy to build nukes and use the bridge fuel natural gas- the only actions that could reduce GHG emissions in the US – and know full well that folks like Joe Romm will hate them whether emissions drop or not. Just about any Democrat will continue to reject nukes and natural gas and, instead, babble about fairy dust and windmills content in the knowledge that folks like Joe Romm will work tirelessly for them whether they do anything about emissions or not. 

  3. Tom Fuller says:

    JeffN, it’s an even-numbered day. That’s all.

  4. John Mashey says:

    But Perry (or his staff) rely on Peter Wood as a good soruce about climate science … or else the staff just did a quick Google.
    As KK mentioned:
    See Washington Post, 08/18/11 Fact-Checker:
    “Another Perry spokesman, Ray Sullivan, provided links to a number of recent articles that he said demonstrated skepticism in the scientific community. We reviewed the articles, and they are anecdotal in nature, not evidence of the groundswell of opposition suggested by Perry.”
    The “to” link there is to Wood’s 2nd article:
    But also see: 

  5. Ed Forbes says:

    “evolution (it’s just a theory)”

    Kind of stating the obvious here. Or did you mean something profound?

    Let see

    Charles Darwin:  “As natural selection acts solely by accumulating slight, successive, favorable variations, it can produce no great or sudden modifications; it can act only by short and slow steps.”.. “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed in numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

    Jay Gould:  New species arise in explosive phases, spread over wide areas, and then go static with little or no change over very long periods of time. the fossil records support that new species that arise in small, localized areas, in a small geographical area, and having a small population size would have little chance to either leave, or be able to find, a fossil record.
    Both are supported. Both are a “theory”.

    Notice the same conflict between the different schools of thought on evolution as in climate?

  6. Keith Kloor says:

    That’s a disingenuous counter. Which do you think Perry believes in, evolution or creationism? 

  7. Ed Forbes says:

    Not disingenous at all

    Is evolution a theory or a law?

    I see you are trying to put both AGW and evolution forward as a law, not as theory as they both correctly are.

    If you are going to make statements, at least make the statements correct.

  8. Dean says:

    Climate is really a secondary aspect to anti-science in the mainstream of the Republican Party. For the most part, it seems to come from literal biblical interpretations. I’ve seen statements from fundamentalists who believe in literal interpretation of the bible that if something from science contradicts the bible, they aren’t particularly interested in the evidence, since the bible is unarguably correct in every detail.
    The bible doesn’t deal much with climate change, but does with how we humans came to be. If Democrats want to make political hay with Republican anti-science, they will focus on how dinosaur bones and fossils (as well as us) all came to be in only the last 5000 or so years. Climate will be the caboose on this train ride, if it comes to be.
    Faith is more important than reason for these literal interpretationists, and they would admit as much. Whatever my opinion on the position of skeptics and deniers, I don’t think many if any of them would take that position, so they are along for the ride as well – to whatever degree they are Republicans next year.

  9. Ed Forbes says:

    On the “it is only a theory” meme, the scientific consensus held that the land masses did not move until quite recently when geologic theory was turned on its head by plate tectonics.
    My business partners’ father-in-law was a major name in geology and had been on the wrong side of this argument. It comes up in once in awhile and he is still a bit bemused about being proved so wrong.

  10. Keith Kloor says:


    It’s pretty tiresome to actually debate this. You’re being disingenuous because you full well know the context of Perry’s statement and thinking on evolution–as in, “it’s just a theory that’s out there.” 

    Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the science-based climate skeptics to show up and demonstrate they are embarrassed by Rick Perry. 

  11. Tom Fuller says:

    Keith do you really expect a public disavowal from skeptics? Have you ever called for the consensus to publicly disavow Al Gore? He has wandered pretty far from the science–why not pair them up and see who gets repudiated most frequently? 

  12. Ed Forbes says:

    I am sorry you think that clear and concise writing is “tiresome”

    and as being embarrassed by Perry. The phrase “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” comes to mind.

    Perry is welcome to believe in a Great Sky Fairy for all I care as long as he can help stop the economic ruin proposed by the radical left.

  13. Keith Kloor says:


    I find your reasoning absurd. It’s also a false equivalency. 

    But more to the point, your logic is extremely cynical and indicative of the zero sum game nature of the climate debate.

    An honest broker, someone who cares more about the science that the politics, shouldn’t give a rats ass what the other side says about Al Gore.

    Clearly, Jon Huntsman is not operating according to your suggested rationale.


  14. Tom Fuller says:

    Yeah, Keith, sure. I like Huntsman–and that’s the kiss of death for him. 

    I’m not trying to be an honest broker here (that’s your job, and you do a fairly decent job of it). I’m not on Perry’s side on either evolution or climate change, and I’m not on Gore’s side either. I think when you talk about zero sum and cynicism, you should look at what both of them are doing, not someone laughing at both.

    But your insistence on skeptical adherence to your moral code of repudiating offending politicians is what is cynical–unless it extends to both sides. Those skeptics who are also U.S. Republicans cannot and probably should not start an internal battle over this, if only because climate change will not be the only issue in play. If Perry emerges as the best candidate for them on a variety of issues, it would be ridiculous for them to hamstring Perry over climate change.

    Besides, that’s what Democrats have been doing for decades–it’s what they’re doing to Obama now. It’s not only bad politics, it’s losing politics.

    If Perry emerges over the course of the campaign as a Know Nothing throwback, there’s plenty of time for skeptics to walk away from him. 

  15. Keith Kloor says:


    Your comments here and the great majority of those left at this thread suggest to me that there is a pathology at work that I have underestimated. 

    My track record on this blog for calling out the other side on its clumsy, thuggish tactics and exaggerated rhetoric is well established. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be incidences such as this and this.

    So one wing views my blogging as “about climate change personalities and controversies, in a manner that fosters inactivism.”

    The other side views me as a “warmist” and “climate hoax promoter.” 

    Meanwhile, the calculation on both sides is to not give the opposition any ammunition.

    Those that profess to care about the science first and foremost would not be so calculating.

  16. Tom Fuller says:

    Keith, this policy debate about how to deal with climate change does not occur in a vacuum. And you can care considerably about the science while recognizing that it is not always first or foremost.

    As someone considerably to the left of you, I have watched my whole life as demands for partisan purity have emasculated some of the best and the brightest on the left. I have also watched with considerable discomfort as Republicans have laughed at our folly.  I doubt if they think they are required to replicate it.

    When Waxman revealed the depth of his ignorance, were there calls from you or others to reexamine Cap and Trade because it had been crafted in part by someone who clearly did not understand the science? 

  17. Ed Forbes says:

    The Greens moved from a science debate to a political debate years ago. Same for me.
    As far as I am concerned, “the science is settled”, and was settled by Lamb. Mann tried to overthrow Lamb with shoddy science and was caught out.
    I voted straight ticket for the Democratic party for 30 years. No more.
    Once the Democrats moved to fully support the Greens to destroy the economy of the US because of “global warming” which changed to “climate change” due to a sufficient lack of warming, I was done. I will now vote for a “yellow dog” if the choice is a Green Democrat.
    I detest most of which the Republicans stand for, but I now hate them less than the Greens, so I will hold my nose and vote Republican until the Democratic party wakes up.

  18. Jeff Norris says:

    I too wonder where Keith is going with this, but I am more perplexed by  the certainty he has in  his argument.  If he presented his argument this way would you  have a problem with it?

    IF Texas Governor Rick Perry CONTINUES  A vocal positions on evolution (it’s just a theory) and IF he continues that global warming (it’s a big hoax) AND IF he is the Republican nominee this MAY combine in way that  seriously mar the climate skeptic image in the public mind.

  19. […] any chance that a reality-based Republican can be a serious candidate in the general election? It doesn’t seem possible, at least for now. It’s to the credit of Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney that they have […]

  20. Dean says:

    This issue of disavowels really gets to the two-party system. So many people are accustomed to choosing the lesser of two evils, and will put up with so much they disagree with because of a difference on some particular issue.
    While I definitely consider Obama better the Republican alternatives, I didn’t vote for him in 2008 and haven’t voted for a major party presidential candidate in almost 20 years. Some think people like me are the source of the problem, that I’m too much a purist. But I think that voting for the lesser of two evils is still “evil” (metaphorically) and it only means we decline slower than if the other one is elected. I don’t require a candidate to agree with me on everything, but I do have a threshold.
    As long as people don’t insist on the option of voting for a candidate that they actually like (by which I mean a political system with an open and accessible ballot and fair elections – debates, etc), then the parties will continue to operate as they do and we will continue to get mediocrity. Hell, the Ds and Rs now run the presidential debates. Do you honestly think that they are going to be fair about letting in anybody else?
    Allowing third parties a viable role in our system is not a panacea, but there is a reason that 80-90% of democracies, including essentially all the new ones in eastern Europe, do so. It works better than our rigid system. The folks who wrote our constitution did not intend for two parties to own the polity, and I think they would be yearning for reform as much as I am.

  21. Keith Kloor says:


    My blogging on the cap and trade debate is all archived here for anyone wanting to see what I wrote. Suffice to say, my call for a more tolerant debate was not appreciated in various quarters.

    Not sure what that has to do with this thread.

    But in any case, I find your characterization of political purity bemusing, as if this were only a character flaw of of the left.

    Clinton was a moderate democrat (of course caricatured by the loyal opposition as otherwise), and Obama is similarly moderate–or he wouldn’t have been elected (but of course he’s similarly caricatured otherwise).

    Meanwhile, the lurch to the extreme right by the Republican party and its capture by social and religious conservatives and the Tea Party is all too demonstrable, as is its strain of ideological purity, which was witnessed during the debt showdown. Yet, incredibly, you say that Republicans are laughing at the ideological purity on the left and for good measure add this: “I doubt if they think they are required to replicate it.” Huh? Are you and I looking at the same Republican party?

    Presuming you full know what the Republican party has become, for some reason your scorn is reserved only for those ideologically pure liberals. Well, I know a few moderate Republicans who are watching with dismay as their party radicalizes before their eyes. Maybe you know a few, too.

    Anyway, as I’ve said elsewhere, Huntsman is positioning himself for 2016, assuming the fever in the Republican party breaks by then.

  22. Ed Forbes says:

    Dean: “..Allowing third parties a viable role in our system is not a panacea, but there is a reason that 80-90% of democracies, including essentially all the new ones in eastern Europe, do so. It works better than our rigid system”¦”
     I disagree. Policy change in the US has to have broad support before it can go through. Do you really want a system where fringe groups can dictate policy due to the major parties needing them onboard to make a government?
    This has worked SO well in Italy, England, Israel, and for others where only several fringe members can hijack the process.

    The US Senate rule regarding filibusters have nothing on a Parliament system that is in close balance and needing a fringe party member or so to rule.

  23. Tom Fuller says:

    Keith, do you think the Tea Party’s various litmus tests are helping the race, any individual candidates or even themselves?

    I sure don’t. What it looks like to me is that all the mainstream candidates are trying to ardently woo them before they screw them.

    The litmus tests don’t work. 

  24. EdG says:

    The only important litmus test for the upcoming election will be the comparison between Obama’s wishful statements on the economy and what it is actually doing in a year.

    In terms of AGW the only real litmus test for this whole model based scenario is whether any of the core model predictions are correct, are even remotely close to correct.

    In terms of Huntsman, DOA. He has as much chance as Jeb Bush has of being the Dem 2016 candidate.

    Overall, I see Obama as Jimmy Carter II. Carter was installed after the Nixon-Ford debacle and in four years, as planned, he looked so bad that the Repubs came back in for the next three terms – which would have been four had Bush Sr not ruffled the wrong feathers. But he did so Perot popped up to hand the election to Clinton, who was smart enough to be an adaptable centrist after a few blowups.

    Then, of course, Monica Lewinsky miraculously saved the stained dress, creating a smell that even scared off Al Gore – who might have won outright if he had been helped by Clinton. But, he didn’t and the Supremes sealed the deal, leaving us with the perfect cowboy to be President for the ‘War on Terror” (replenishing the funding for post-USSR military-industrial complex).
    Similarly, Obama was installed after the Bush Jr fiasco in order to take the hit on the economic mess and make the Republicans look good again. And he has ruffled the same feathers that Bush Sr did (Israel).

    Needless to say, I see US elections are completely rigged and manipulated. But it is nice of them to let the ‘little people’ play democracy and pick between two selected puppets.  

  25. Tom Fuller says:

    Gee, and Keith called me a cynic.

  26. Dean says:

    You choose an extreme example or two. As I said, almost all democracies around the world work this way. Italy has been bouncing all over the map, changing it’s structure every few years. Israel’s structure is extreme. What about the other hundred or so democracies around the world? Many have implemented reforms in recent years that we can’t even get close to in the US, including many European countries. This is why so many northern European countries are doing so much better than their southern counterparts now.
    Yes, there are a collection of situations that can also hamstring a multi-arty system. How many of them suffer from it at the moment, or at any particular moment? It is a rare set of conditions, and is particularly rare for those countries that are designed to avoid them (Israel’s design favors the problem).
    Like I said, it’s not a panacea. But it is interesting to note that when the central/eastern European countries got their democracy, most initially chose to mimic the US system. Every single one that tried this abandoned it pretty quickly.
    Lastly, I’m not talking about a parliamentary system (prime minister chosen by the parliament). I’m talking about a proportional system. The two have nothing to do with each other.

  27. Michael Larkin says:

    I think I might be getting it, Keith: you are a Democrat and a supporter of AGW. You want a Republican presidential candidate who expresses AGW scepticism to be tarred by association because of his views on evolution. Well, fancy that: who’d a thunk it?
    But what’s really got your knickers in a twist is that AGW sceptics (who are, apparently, automatically regarded by many in the US as Republican Creationists) aren’t affirming in droves that Perry would be a liability.
    It’s not fair: you are willing to affirm there are complementary issues on the AGW supporter side. Sceptics are politicised curmudgeons who don’t give a damn about the science.
    I will offer another possibility. The hoped-for admissions aren’t materialising because sceptics aren’t accepting your terms of engagement. They aren’t answering the question about how often they beat their wives, even if you are willing to admit you beat yours now and then.
    If you want to infer from that that they too are wife-beaters and hence hypocrites, well, no one can stop you. I only ask WTF this has to do with the science, which is what, in the end, will get to the bottom of whether AGW is a real issue or not, regardless of what policies are or are not enacted.

  28. Fred says:

    Rick Perry’s Texas added another 30,000 jobs in July, its 10th straight month of job growth.  Perry will be good for job creation and will bury the global warming fantasy along with its associated economy-killing policies.  He is right about the science of global warming.  Note the work of Lindzen, Spencer, and Svensmark.  Perry is right about job creation and global warming.  We can survive a president who gets job creation and global warming right but evolution wrong.  We can’t survive Obama who gets job creation and global warming wrong but evolution right.    

  29. Bill Harrington says:

    Isn’t all within science a theory? For instance, the theory of relativity? 

    What aspect of science does Mr. Perry regard as proven? What part of science operates solely in the world of facts? With respect to whatever part of science that Mr. Perry believes to be unassailably factual, he will be informed that that scientific realm, is, alas, just a theory.

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